Minneapolis, MN – The Association Of Liberian Journalists In The Americas (ALJA) has elected a new corps of officers to steer the affairs of the organization for the next 2 years. Those elected are Mr. Pewee Baysah, National President, Mrs. Kadiatu Brohiri, National Vice President and Mr. Joey Kennedy, National Secretary-General. Others include Mr. Stanley McGill as National Assistant Secretary-General; and Ms. Lisa Willie, National Treasurer.
According to a press release issued by the association on Thursday, September 21, 2023, the new officers were elected at the just ended 11th National Convention of the Association held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 14-17 September 2023 under the theme: “How can the Media ensure a transparent and violence-free elections”.
Administering the Oath of Office to the new ALJA officials, the Senior Pastor of the Ebenezer Community Church, Rev. Dr. Francis Tabla, urged the new officers to serve with integrity and commitment to the organization as well as positively impact the media landscape in Liberia by continuously espousing the importance of freedom of speech and the press, the rule of law and good governance especially during the current electoral season. Rev. Tabla invoked the blessings of God upon the new leadership, admonishing them to put God first in the discharge of their duties.
In his inaugural address, the new President of ALJA Pewee Baysah, called for the existence of free, pluralistic, and independent media in Liberia. Mr. Baysah noted that a wholesome functioning democracy is one in which the Independent Media present facts and educate citizens on the state of affairs in their countries. The ALJA President described the critical role the media plays in creating space for people to express their views, giving voice to the voiceless in society such as the youth, women, and people with disabilities who often feel marginalized but harbor a critical role in achieving the Sustainable Development.
The ALJA release quotes President Baysah as saying that “while the Liberian media are undoubtedly progressive in reporting and highlighting issues affecting the society, there is a need to step up their watchdog role to help national institutions foster a more deeply entrenched culture of transparency, accountability, and integrity”. He also called on the Liberian Media to proactively look for and tell the story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help solve the multiple development challenges the country faces. This, according to Mr. Baysah, can help motivate more citizen-inspired action.
In his farewell message, outgoing President Joe Mason, applauded the Board of Directors of ALJA, the organization’s executive leadership, chapter heads and committee members and members of the association for their unwavering commitment and hard work which have served as the epitome of the organization’s success over the years.
Mr. Mason recounted the numerous achievements garnered by ALJA during his tenure which, among other things, include championing the pivotal causes of freedom of speech and press, advocacy for the rule of law and good governance, as well as capacity building for Liberian journalists, among others. Mr. Mason served at the helm of the organization for a total of 8 years (4 years as National Vice President and 4 years as National President).
Mr. Mason also gave awards to several individuals during the ceremony. They include the ALJA Media Excellence Award whose recipients were several former and current journalists including Dr. Abdoulaye Wahab Dukule, founding Member of ALJA who also served as assistant professor and chairman of the French Department at the University of Liberia; Mrs. Christiana Winnie Saywah Jimmy, Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper; Mr. Titus W. Tokpa, Sr., founder of the Peter Quaqua School of Journalism; Rev. Suah Deddeh, former President of the Press Union of Liberia and Mr. peter Quaqua, outgoing president of the West African Journalists Association who also served as President and assistant secretary General of the Press union of Liberia.
Reflecting on their unwavering support and their tireless efforts in running the affairs of ALJA for the past several years, Mr. Mason awarded the Distinguished Service Award to former and present officers of ALJA. Those receiving awards were Dr. Samuel Wah Johnson, outgoing National Vice President; Mrs. Akai Glidden, outgoing National Secretary-General, and Mr. Patrick Kugmeh, member of the Board of Directors of ALJA for their distinguished service to the association, while the Outstanding Service Award was given to Ms. Pricilla Nyenator, former Chairman on the Membership, Grievance and Professional Ethics Committee.
Meanwhile, Representative Naquetta Ricks of the Colorado State General Assembly, urged both traditional and digital media in Liberia to work together to combat the spread of misinformation and promote constructive dialogue before, during and after the ensuring October 10, 2023, general elections in Liberia.
Rep Ricks, who served as Guest Speaker at the ALJA Fundraising Dinner and Awards Night, implored media practitioners in Liberia to seek diverse perspectives on critical national issues, verify information before publication and engage in critical thinking as part of their responsibility to the Liberian people.
Madam Rick, who is the first Liberian Americans to be elected to any state legislature in the US, reminded Liberians both at home and in the USA to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming electoral process in Liberia, adding that “voting is the foundation of democracy, it’s how citizens communicate their desires and preferences to their government. When citizens don’t vote, they’re effectively giving up their rights to have a say in how their country is governed”. She called on all Liberians to go out on October 10, 2023 and vote, pointing out that voting is an important way to promote unity and equality in our society.
The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas is a 501 (C) 3 organization founded by former Liberian journalists based in the United States in 1998 and was revived in 2014 after a period of dormancy. ALJA advocates for good governance, rule of law, democracy, freedom of speech and of the press and provides capacity building for practicing journalists and media institutions in Liberia.